India to appeal poultry dispute

Appeal would set up an additional 90 days for WTO to consider the merits of the case.

In November the World Trade Organization panel agreed with the United States in a dispute against Indian challenging its ban on various agricultural products such as poultry meat, eggs and live pigs. New reports indicate India plans to appeal the decision.

India placed a ban on U.S. poultry products in 2007 under the guise of preventing low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI), but produced no scientific evidence to support the ban’s validity. In response, the U.S. Trade Representative initiated consultations in 2012, refuting India’s claims that LPAI will mutate into a highly pathogenic form of the virus.

The United States, however, has not had an outbreak of high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) since 2004, while during that same interval India has had over 90 HPAI outbreaks.

The Economic Times reported that an India official said that an appeal would be filed “very soon to the appellate body” and India hopes for an improvement in the panel decision itself.

At the time of the ruling, USTR was very encouraged by the strong precedent set by the WTO panel ruling. It was the first time a WTO panel had ruled on Article 6 of the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement). “We consider this a very important decision,” one USTR official noted after the ruling. “WTO panel affirmed every single complaint we brought which is very important for our goal of ensuring there is sufficient science behind any SPS measure.”

The industry estimates that U.S. exports to India of just poultry meat alone could easily exceed $300 million a year once India’s restrictions are removed – and are likely to grow substantially in the future as India’s demand for high quality protein increases, USTR said.

Poultry groups also recognized the ruling does not give the U.S. automatic access to India’s market, which is estimated to be approximately 2.6 million metric tons of U.S. poultry annually, and is growing at a rate of 8% to 10% per year.

The Indian official said India remains committed to protecting its domestic industry, which complains that the U.S. dumps chicken legs into the market. The Indian poultry sector is growing in many states and has significant employment potential.

WTO rules provide that the WTO Appellate Body must issue its report within 90 days of the filing of the appeal.

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